Qualifying: Another Red Bull lock-out

After all the controversy surrounding the ban on hot exhaust gases going into the diffuser and the final ruling that the regulation change would indeed apply, Saturday's qualifying was eagerly awaited. Naturally, everyone wanted to see if Red Bull were about to lose their dominance. Despite a few rain drops that somewhat distorted the picture, the answer has to be yes. Because operating under similar conditions, Ferrari in particular were able to get much closer to Red Bull.

Pole position was still heading Red Bull's way, but exceptionally, Mark Webber prevailed against reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel. Fernando Alonso in third place was little more than a tenth of a second adrift, a gap that has never been so close in the last couple of seasons, and Felipe Massa wasn't too far behind either. At the same time, the two Ferraris opened up a clear lead on McLaren. Jenson Button had to be content with fifth place, while Paul di Resta and Pastor Maldonado were the surprise packages in sixth and seventh.
The biggest shock was to see Lewis Hamilton way down in tenth, behind Kamui Kobayashi and Nico Rosberg. So the Top Ten grid formation for tomorrow promises to produce an exciting race. But the first two qualifying sessions had also been intriguing in their own right.

Michael Schumacher and Nick Heidfeld failed to progress beyond Q2. Toro Rosso bombed badly in Q1, because Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi took a gamble on hard tyres for their first runs and a sudden rain shower then deprived them of the chance to improve their times. One driver who benefited from the weather was Heikki Kovalainen who made the cut for Q2 and will be starting from 17th on Sunday.

F1 debutant Daniel Ricciardo finished his first qualifying as tail-ender, but at least the Australian had no problem in clearing the 107-percent hurdle.
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